The pupils from the Joseph Swan Academy hanging out with our student guide Conor McGinn
The pupils from the Joseph Swan Academy hanging out with our student guide Conor McGinn

Future Scholar's Visit - 3rd June 2015

On Wednesday 3rd June, we hosted an event in the university which invited Year 9 school pupils from a number of schools across the UK to find out what studying at Queen's University would be like as part of the Russell Group Future Scholar Awards Scheme.

The scheme also aimed to show teachers how to support their pupils when the time comes for them to apply to university. In total, 62 pupils from; Bodmin College, Broadgreen International School, Castle Donington College, Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Great Torrington School, Holyport College, Joseph Swan Academy, Parklands High School and The Baverstock Academy joined us in a day of activities.

The participants were able to attend their choice of talks concentrating on specific subject areas, and also had a guided tour of the Queen's University Student accomodation at Elms Village. 

There were also a number of activities throughout the day organised for the schools as well as the opportunity for the students to talk to our student guides who were able to offer some first hand experience of what it's like to be a student at Queen's.

The University of South Wales Conference Team

FACE Conference 2015

The 2015 Annual Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) Conference will take place between Wednesday 1st to Friday 3rd July. The conference will take place at the University of South Wales Treforest campus this year. 

FACE aims to facilitate, through avenues such as conferences, seminars, workshops and publications; the exchange and dissemination of information and practice to encourage continuing education and lifelong learning between practitioners and providers.

If you want to make a contribution in the form of a paper, poster or workshop session to this year's conference, then you can. The deadline for submitting an abstract and the Early Bird registration fee discount have now been extended to the 22nd May 2015! Click here for more information about submitting an abstract.

 Key Themes for FACE 2015:  

  1. Crossing boundaries through partnership working.
  2. Routes out of poverty through lifelong learning.
  3. Learning journeys and careers.
  4. Lifelong learning for local, regional and national developments.
  5. Part-time and full-time learning.

Queen's Univeristy will be hosting the FACE conference next year in 2016. To see the brochure with more details about next year's event, click here.

Sean Ward receiving the Queen's University Teacher Award from Professor Margaret Topping.
Sean Ward receiving the Queen's University Teacher Award from Professor Margaret Topping.

The Blackboard Awards 2014

The third annual Blackboard Awards took place on Thursday 4th December, which sought to recognise the commitment of our Principals, Teachers and Classroom Assistants from both Primary and Secondary Schools in Belfast City to nurture and inspire our next generation of young people.

There were 40 nominees over a number of categories, who demonstrated their dedication to go that extra mile for the benefit of their pupils.The awards ceremony was hosted and sponsored by Queen’s University and took place at Riddell Hall on the university campus.

One of the major award winners on the night was Sean Ward of Corpus Christi College Belfast. Sean has been supporting the work of the Widening Participation Unit for a number of years. In the academic year 2013/14 he has nominated Year 9 pupils for the Queen’s Academy Programme, took part in the in the Engineering Futures Programme, supporting a group of Year 10 boys to complete an award winning project.

A thoroughly deserving recipient of his award, Sean has always been fully supportive of any of his pupils whenever they have participated in our events and has consistently been a true ambassador for his school, encouraging each and every boy to fulfil their potential, whatever that may be. ‌

                                  An 'EPIC' visit to Queen's 

The Widening Participation Unit have been working with a group of young people from the Woodvale and Shankill areas of NorthBelfast. The group aged 15-21 have been looking at culture and identity and have visited Queen’s to find out more about university and raise their educational aspirations. The School of History were approached to see if they could lend their expertise as the group are keen to learn about local history and the background to the troubles.

Dr Stuart Aveyard, Lecturer in Modern British History delivered a session addressing the Ulster Workers Strike on Wednesday, 19th November 2014. The group watched clips from 1974, explored reports from the time and engaged in a lively discussion surrounding the topics covered. The workshop proved very successful with the young people really engaging with the topic. One of the young people commented, “History was never like this at school, I found that really interesting!”and another enquired if they could take home some the hand-out provided so that they could follow up with additional research. ‌‌

Queen's Academy 2014

The second Queen's Academy residential 2014 took place from Tuesday 26 - Thursday 29 August. This was the final residential in a series of events including a taster day on 17 April and the first two night residential in June (25-27; see photos of the June residential here). 

The year 13 students that are taking part in the Academy come from across Northern Ireland; they were each nominated by their schools because they have the potential to attend university. 

The students took part in a programme of events at the residentials that included information about the UCAS process, study skills, goal setting, life at university, student finance, faculty information and tours. They also had the opportunity to take part in various team building activities, sample sports clubs at the PEC and attend a play at the Lyric Theatre. Accomodation was provided in Queen's Elms Village, which gave the students a chance to experience student halls of residence. 

Current Queen's University students acted as student guides and imparted their knowledge of the University, as well as getting fully involved in all aspects of the programme. 

The Widening Participation Unit will continue to support the students as they move into year 14 through tutoring and mentoring. For full details of our curent tutoring vacancies see our 'getting involved' section. 

Graduation Success - July 2014

Four students that participated on the Widening Participation Unit's 'Head Start' Programme, and continued to work with WPU as student guides during their time at Queen's, are graduating this week!

Grainne Savage, Ruairdhri McIlroy, James McAlister and Geoffrey Pearson participated in a pre-entry programme for students from WP backgrounds who had attended non selecting schools. The programme aimed to give them a ‘Head Start’ into university life and was completed in the weeks leading up to welcome and orientation.

Since enrolling at Queen's, these students have assisted in various WPU outreach programmes, including the Queen’s Academy. Through this work they have been encouraging others to raise their aspirations and consider Higher Education as an option for them.

Their graduation story was covered by the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday 5 July 2014.

Queen's University, Belfast receives award for its 

commitment to students from a care background 

Queen's University, Belfast has been awarded the prestigious Buttle UK Quality Mark in recognition of its commitment to young people in and leaving care.

Created by Buttle UK - the largest grant-giving organisation in the country directly supporting children and families living in poverty - the charity awards the Quality Mark to colleges and universities which commit to support a young person who has been in care, to access further and higher education and successfully complete their studies and achieve their ambitions.    

The challenges facing young people leaving care are enormous.  They are one of the most under-represented groups in education in the UK.  Often lacking family support, suffering financial disadvantage and struggling to find somewhere to live, applying for and being accepted for further and higher education is a real achievement.

To receive its Quality Mark, Queen's University had to demonstrate that it has a robust strategy in place to ensure that students from a care background can access a package of support – financial, pastoral and educational. Full details of this support can be found on the Care Leavers website: and it is overseen by Deirdre Lynskey, Outreach Officer in the Widening Parrticipation Unit. 

To date, more than half the universities in the UK hold the Buttle UK Quality Mark, together with a rising number of colleges.

Susan Mueller, Buttle UK Quality Mark Manager, says: “We are very pleased with the success of this award and are delighted to extend it to Queen's University, Belfast. The university has amply displayed its dedication and initiative to helping young people leaving care to receive an education and have the opportunity to succeed and move on to the next stage of their lives.

“Our Quality Mark is also a clear way for Queen's University to demonstrate its credentials to partners, funders, inspectorates and the wider community – and importantly to the young people from care themselves.”

Deirdre Lynskey, the Quality Mark contact at Queen’s, says: "I'm looking forward to ensuring that every care experienced student wishing to come to the university will get the support and guidance that best meets their needs, ensuring that their time as a Queen’s student is a valuable learning experience equipping them with the knowledge and skills  to reach their full potential."

To find out more about the Buttle UK Quality Mark for Care Leavers visit


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